J.S. Bach

J.S. Bach Cello Suites – Webinars

The idea behind these lectures is to guide performers through the six cello suites by J.S. Bach. As a performing cellist myself I was frustrated during my early studies with these suites as I did not know how to embark on my interpretation, how to technically execute them, or how I should understand them. Every instrumentalist I asked had their own opinion and tried to share with me their own intuition. It did not seem to be any specific “rules” to what you could or couldn’t do with the choice of articulation, how one should phrase, or an easy way to grasp the works of Bach that stands so central in cellists’ repertoire. 

In order to better understand the music, I began to study 18th century and contemporary writings on performance practice and characteristics of the suite form and the dance movements. This helped me to get a deeper understanding of what the music is about. I also turned to music theory. Music of the baroque period follows quite strict rules, or rather, careful analysis of baroque music in later periods has allowed us to set rules and to build up a rather concise music theory and analytical methods for this music. I am not the first person to see the cello suites from a theorist’s perspective, but those sources I am aware of seem to be aimed at advanced music theorists. Most performers do not possess that deep knowledge or interest in music theory so that they can actively use this in their interpretation. I am looking at the suites with an interpreter’s eyes, informed by music theory and historical background.

My aim is to use simple music theory, analysis, and historical background and performance practice to help performers with relevant information in their search towards a better understanding of Bach’s music and its interpretative possibilities.

Who are these lectures for?​

I am aiming these lectures for instrumentalists who have the suites in their repertoire. They are aimed for those who would like to start on their Bach journey, those who have worked on it for a while but are challenged by them, and for those of you who have played Bach for years but would like a new approach to the music.

You do not have to be a cellist to take part, and you do not need to have any prior knowledge of music theory and harmony either.

Everyone is welcome!

Topic 2: "Articulation & bowings" in Suite No 1, BWV 1007

By the end of the webinars you will have a wider understanding of the music and on interpreting and performing baroque music in general. The historically informed sets of bowings you will receive may be a good starting point for you to develop further into becoming your own. Or you can use the clean copy and make bowings as we go along through the webinars. The ultimate aim is for you to have, and understand, a set of bowings and articulations that makes sense to you. 

Topic 1, “Harmony & form”, is not a prerequisite for following topic 2, but it will give you an even wider understanding of the music and phrasing. Click on the link above to receive a recording of these two webinars.

Contents of the webinars

  • Adressing the problems we are facing regarding articulations
  • About the manuscript sources
  • Early 18th century musical understanding and performance practice
  • Baroque cello and bow and early 18th century bow stroke
  • Articulation of separate notes and slurred notes
  • Characteristics of different slur combinations
  • Rhetorical gestures and punctuation
  • The baroque melody
  • Finding the structurally important notes
  • Rhythmical understanding
  • Execution of chords and trills

You will receive in advance the four manuscript sources, a set of historically informed slurs, and a clean copy for you to use when making your own.

Webinar 1 - Prelude

August 5th
16.30-18.00 GMT

  • What are the problems of articulation that we are facing?
  • Short on reading scores and about musical meaning seen in an early 18th century German perspective.
  • About the different manuscripts
  • Some general rules of articulation found in the Prélude
  • Prélude

Webinar 2 - Allemande

August 9th
16.30-18.00 GMT

  • Short about the meaning of the wedge found in the manuscripts
  • The baroque “melody”
  • Some general rules of articulation found in the Allemande
  • Allemande

Webinar 3 - "Intermezzo"

August 11th
11.30-13.00 GMT

  • The baroque cello and bow, and 18th century bow stroke
  • On articulation of separate notes and slurred notes
  • On rhetorical punctuation – use of comma, colon and period in a musical text
  • Some general rules of articulation found in the Menuets
  • Menuet I & II 

Webinar 4 - Sarabande

August 13th
11.30-13.00 GMT

  • On the execution of dotted rhythms and the characteristic Sarabande rhythm
  • On the use of rhythmical analysis to decide character and articulation
  • On the execution of chords and trills
  • Some general rules of articulation found in the Sarabande
  • Sarabande

Webinar 5 - the quick movements

August 14th
11.30-13.00 GMT

  • Slur characteristics
  • Some general rules of articulations found in the Courante and Gigue
  • Courante
  • Gigue


1 webinar: £35
2 webinars: £70
3 webinars: £100
4 webinars: £125
5 webinars: £145

For Norwegians:
Du kan også betale i NOK:
1 webinar: 400,-
2 webinarer: 800,-
3 webinarer: 1100,-
4 webinarer: 1400,-
5 webinarer: 1650,-

Stay tuned for information about webinars on the remaining 5 suites